Arts and Entertainment

Fish-a-plenty at annual Salmon Bake

Smoke fills the air at the annual Salmon Bake at the Manchester Library. This year
Smoke fills the air at the annual Salmon Bake at the Manchester Library. This year's bake takes place June 19 from noon to 4 p.m.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

How long the annual Manchester Salmon Bake has been happening is up for debate.

The easy answer is it has been going on for years and years.

A more accurate time is difficult to pinpoint, but a good estimate puts the date at 1970, making this year the 42nd annual event.

Salmon Bake Chairman Ray Pardo said, "If you get in a bar with a couple of old timers, you might be challenged with that date."

Regardless of how long the Salmon Bake has taken place, the event is a tradition for the folks of Manchester, as well as a fundraiser for the community library.

The festivities are held on Father's Day and as a result, many families choose to celebrate their fathers at the Salmon Bake.

Since the Salmon Bake's inception, the Bow family has helped oversee the grilling. Patriarch Bob Bow led the way, with his children and grandchildren picking up grilling utensils and following in his footsteps. Bob passed away in February and members of the Bow family will honor him by firing up the grill again this year. The family will also dedicate a new flag pole at a short memorial ceremony at the beginning of the Salmon Bake.

The mouth-watering menu includes sockeye salmon grilled to perfection over an 8 by 30 foot grill that is set up in the parking lot. The grill sits on a bed of brick and sand. Volunteers split wood to feed the fire. Fir provides the heat, while wet alder provides the smoke, giving the salmon a rich, smoky flavor. More than 300 pounds of salmon have been ordered for the event. Pardo said they plan for 800 meals.

Event chefs used to grill fresh fish, but the price variance made it difficult to budget. "It's still tremendous salmon," Pardo said. "It's basically frozen right off the hook."

Along with the salmon, local dignitaries will serve up coleslaw (with a special sauce donated by The Airport Diner), freshly baked garlic bread and baked beans (made from a secret recipe and Pardo isn't allowed to divulge the secret ingredients.) The complete meal with drink and cookie is $14 for adults, and $10 for children 11 and younger.

Typically, the Salmon Bake brings in between $7000 and $8000, which makes up 30 percent of the Friends of Manchester Library's operating budget. The Friends of Manchester Library has a partnership with Kitsap Regional Library and the Port of Manchester. FML provides the space for the library, while KRL provides the books, librarians and computer system. The port leases the land to the library for $1 a year.

Last November's winter storm caused havoc on the library when a frozen pipe burst, damaging flooring and walls. Library patrons dug into their wallets and raised more than $10,000 to pay the insurance deductible. They also donated their time and talents to help restore the building.

Pardo said the Manchester library is the heart of the community. "It's sort of our general store. It's where you stop by to find out what's going on."

And on June 19, the library will be all about salmon. The Salmon Bake runs from noon to 4 p.m., or until they run out of fish. It takes place in the library's parking lot at 8067 E. Main St.,  Manchester.



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